In my various creative pursuits I have often reflected on the definition of design.What is Design? Who defines design?
It’s a term conveniently adapted differently to various art forms. For an artisan his skill to transform an object of wood,metal or stone into a permanently altered state of existence is design. For a weaver the yarns he lovingly weaves into a myriad textures is design. A seamstress creates designs with her needle and an automotive engineer breaks the barriers of speed, some more, with his design. A painter creates designs of composition and an interior designer creates harmony with material juxtaposition.
The architects design and film set makers design too. There is design which gets set for centuries in colors of stone inlays and design in the powdery impermanence of a rangoli .There is design on nearly anything created by humans, all regulated by the luxury of time or money but almost always there is a deep connection with the social preferences of the time. Objects of design have been objects of desire! Objects of design have also been objects of reverence!
While a crafts person works laboriously with skills honed over many centuries and generations to create pieces of exceptional human excellence, most often the craft itself is neither recognized in the same league as an artwork nor as an immensely creative design achievement. Skills that were developed by ordinary humans to bring grace and beauty to their surroundings, expressing their cultural identities, skills that sometimes formed the thread work of not just the fabrics they wove but the society that got woven along with it are now at risk of being lost.
The World Wide Web a modern aid has usurped the intricate system of interpersonal skill generating web of communal creativity.Not onlydoes the modernized super fast society have no time to pause or appreciate these pieces, it has no means to absorb those crafts into its super simplistic minimalistic ways of living. These are considered as mere decoration and not aselitist designs anymore.
So, who defines what design is? The embroiderer of a pashmina shawl dedicating sometimes a whole year in isolation, scripting colorful harmony on a single piece of fabric? The dreamer who designs a new way for the human race to communicate? Or the myriad readily available images on Pinterest of nearly every object conceivable, which get imitated and redesigned by different users to suit their adaptive capability every day?
Somehow our concerns for conservation are limited only to the resources that are getting depleted, what about our collective design sensibility which gives every region its identity that is being depleted as well?With the efforts made by our government these crafts are still alive but not in their former glory. The intricate techniques that once decorated the majestic Taj Mahal are now good for decoration on gift boxes only. The stone carvings and painted friezes on temples can find use only as dismembered adornments.
In India the crafts can survive and craftsmen sustain themselves if the corporate houses can support the business of artisans. Adopt their villages or maybe adopt their techniques for representation. A movement perhaps CRAFTS (Conserve Restore Ancient Forms Techniques and Styles)could haul the artisans works to an acceptable level of urban usage. At a more personal level individuals could commit to supporting only the genuine works from their traditional backgrounds. This would eliminate the flux of cheap imitations that crowd the markets and deprive the original pieces of their uniqueness.
The garments industry has made huge steps towards conserving textilesbut not much effort has been made by the construction industry. There is an urgent need to conserve a whole lot of really stunning crafts from India and these need support and vision from the urban designers. These slowlydwindling designers of crafts have been in the past the benchmark of our heritage and the identity of our country.
Written byRitu Dimri
She is a free-lance interior architect .She has been in the field of design and interiors for nearly twenty five years. Her design sensibility is modernistic. In her projects she lays special emphasis on integration of arts and crafts, into a harmonious blend, with modern spaces. Her works have been featured in several design magazines and her initiative to support upcoming artists and sculptors through her gallery VYAKT has placed many talented artists on the road to recognition. Her projects range from interiors for corporate offices, luxury residences and Institutional and hospitality sector. She lives and works in Delhi NCR region.